divine love

by sister juana ines de la cruz …………………………………………………………………………………


There’s something disturbing me

so subtle, to be sure,

that though I feel it keenly,

it’s not hard to endure.


It’s love, but love, for once,

without a blindfold ~ whence

whoever sees his eyes,

feels torture the more intense.


It’s not from their terminus a quo

that my sufferings arise,

for their terminus is the Good;

it’s in distance that suffering lies.


If this emotion of mine

is proper ~ indeed, is love’s due ~

why must I be chastised

for paying what I owe?


Oh, all the consideration,

the tenderness I have seen:

when love is placed in God,

nothing else can intervene.


From what is legitimate

it cannot deviate;

no risk of being forgotten

need it ever contemplate.


I recall ~ were it not so ~

a time when the love I knew

went far beyond madness even,

reached excesses known to few,


but being a bastard love,

built on warring tensions,

it simply fell apart

from its own dissensions.


But oh, being now directed

to the goal true lovers know,

through virtue and reason alone

it must stronger and stronger grow.


Therefore one might inquire

why it is I still languish.

My troubled heart would reply:

what makes my joy makes my anguish.



Yes, from human weakness,

in the midst of purest affection,

we still remain a prey

to natural dejection.


To see our love returned

is so insistent a craving

that even when out of place,

we still find it enslaving.


It means nothing in this instance

that my love be reciprocated;

yet no matter how hard I try,

the need persists unabated.


If this is a sin, I confess it,

if a crime, I must avow it;

the one thing I cannot do

is repent and disallow it.


The one who has power to probe

the secrets of my breast,

has seen that I am the cause

of my suffering and distress.


Well he knows that I myself

have put my desires to death ~

my worries smother them,

their tomb is my own breast.


I die (who would believe it?)

at the hands of what I love best.

What is it puts me to death?

The very love I profess.


Thus, with deadly poison

I keep my life alive:

the very death I live

is the life of which I die.


Still, take courage, heart:

when torture becomes so sweet,

whatever may be my lot,

from love I’ll not retreat.



translation by alan s. trueblood

 a sor juana anthology





Saint Paul’s Hymn to Love

1 Corinthians Chapter 13

Jerusalem Bible


Though I command languages both human & angelic ~ if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.  And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries & knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains ~ if I am without love, I am nothing.  Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned ~ if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.



Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude & never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offense or store up grievances.   Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.  It is always ready to make allowances, to trust to hope & to endure whatever comes.



Love never comes to an end.  But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.  For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.  When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.  Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face.  Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.



As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.